Former PH envoy to UN Lauro Baja Jr. passes away at 86

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

February 10, 2024, 7:31 am

<p>The late Ambassador Lauro Baja Jr. <em>(Photo courtesy of Baja's FB page) </em></p>

The late Ambassador Lauro Baja Jr. (Photo courtesy of Baja's FB page) 

MANILA – Ambassador Lauro Liboon Baja Jr., the country’s former foreign affairs undersecretary for policy and envoy to the United Nations (UN), has died at age 86.

In a text message on Friday night, his nephew, Philippine Ambassador to Morocco Leslie Baja, said the former envoy passed away due to a heart attack on Feb. 8.

The elder Baja served as the country’s ambassador to Italy, Brazil, and the UN when the Philippines last assumed one of the elected seats at the UN Security Council from 2004 to 2006.

He represented the Philippines at diplomatic conferences, including the Rome conference establishing the International Criminal Court, and served in senior official capacities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Non-Aligned Movement meetings, among others.

He was instrumental in the crafting of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the ASEAN Joint Declaration Against Terrorism.

He was also credited for leading the passage of the landmark Resolution 1546, which established the political transition process in Iraq.

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya, who published a book featuring one of Baja’s interviews as a “front-liner” of diplomacy, described the late envoy as one of the Philippines’ most accomplished diplomats.

“He served the Department (of Foreign Affairs) and our country exceedingly well and admirably, always with wisdom and eloquence, at key posts during critical times, including as Philippine Permanent Representative when the Philippines last sat at the UN Security Council (2004-2006) and as Undersecretary for Policy when the WPS (West Philippine Sea) issue started to brew,” he said in a Facebook post.

Malaya extolled Baja’s competence and reliability and recalled the time when former Foreign Affairs Secretary Carlos Romulo designated him as his chief of staff and “left practically to him the management” of the DFA when the top diplomat would be at the UN in New York for months.

“And yet Baja remained humble and self-effacing, and solicitous to young staff members, including myself, when we would be called in to brief him on issues. He would smile and made us feel that our views mattered,” Malaya said.

Baja will be interred at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City on Feb. 16. (PNA)